I don’t think there’s a more iconic beach in Portugal than Praia do Camilo. It’s the type of place that leads people from all over the world to the Algarve. And for photographers, it’s an absolute gem.
Situated down a beautiful walkway on Ponta de Piedade – and on the outskirts of Lagos – Praia do Camilo is one of those truly special places that needs to be on every photographers photo list. In fact, you might even want to head there twice.
Oh, and if you’re heading to Praia do Camilo in the summer, get there early.
Time of Day?
For me, it’s all about sunrise at Praia do Camilo. For one, at sunrise you get the light hitting the beach. At sunset, it sets at your back and can lead to a shaded beach.
Also, it can get very busy at sunset. I took the above image in the middle of summer at sunrise. It definitely wouldn’t look this empty at sunset.
It’s funny building these photo location guides for Portugal because I catch myself saying the same thing over and over again.
“You want a wide angle, and a tele-photo lens”.
I think you could photograph all of Portugal with just a 15-35mm and a 70-200mm.
Respect the landscape and the cliffs. They are brittle. So, don’t stand under them as there can be rock slides. And, don’t get too close to the edges as they can collapse.
Drones are OK here.
There is parking right at the top of the boardwalk; although it will likely be full in the summer.
Photos of Praia do Camilo
Sometimes when a photo location is so obvious, you kind of neglect it. And living in Lagos, I’ve kind of done that with Praia do Camilo. I think there are likely dozens of photos from down at the beach level, but I’ve focused all my energy at photographing the beach from above. So, having said that, don’t forget to explore the beach level here. The area off to the left under the arch has some beautiful rock formations that are definitely worth photographing – even if I haven’t done so yet.
There’s almost something guilty about making a photo this easily.
The below photo of Praia do Camilo was legitimately taken from the parking lot. Well, maybe a meter away from it. When you’re at the parking lot, walk straight over the end and you’ll find a well-used bit of land overlooking the beach. This is the spot where the image was taken.
It was taken at sunrise, and I used a 4-stop medium grad ND filter to hold in the light in the sky. It was taken at f/16, 8 seconds, iso 100, at 18mm.
I’m going to lump in Lagos Viewpoint to this guide because it is essentially at Praia do Camilo – even if the photos from there don’t include the beach.
To get to Lagos Viewpoint, you’ll need to drive (or walk) to the parking lot at Praia do Camilo. From there you’ll see a ruined old home on the cliff edge opposite the beach. There’s an opening in the fence there and a little trail that leads to the spot that’s geo-tagged on Google Maps as “Lagos Viewpoint”. There are a bunch of really cool compositions to be made from this spot.
I like to come here in the morning or afternoon. But, I prefer the light during the blue hour – like below.
The image was taken at f/11, 30 seconds, iso 100, at 22mm.
Add the boardwalk leading to Praia do Camilo to my list of photographs I need to work on. I photographed the below image on my very first visit to the Algarve a long time ago. And for whatever reason I’ve never come back to this composition – which is quite nice.
It is a challenge, though, along the boardwalk to photograph the trail in a way that looks like it leads down to the beach.
That being said, it’s not a complicated photo. Get wide, and take the image.
If I ever come back to take this photo again, I’ll definitely include a person in the frame to add to the story. I might chill out with the long exposure too. I think a faster shutter might have a better mood. This image was take at f/11, 30 seconds, iso 100, @16mm.
Little People, Big Landscape
If I was more of a portrait photographer – or people photographer in general – I’d be all over some little people, big landscape photography here.
“Little person, big landscape” photography is essentially the art of using a person in your photo to show the massive size of a landscape, and provide scale.
With a slightly longer lens from the parking area, I managed to capture this couple walking at sunrise. They were actually doing a photo shoot down on the beach.
Unlike other wide angle images of the beach, it shows the sheer size of the cliffs and the rock formations. Having people in your frame really helps offer a frame of reference and relatability.
The Moon Over Praia do Camilo
This was actually from the first time I visited Praia do Camilo. The full moon was rising just after sunset and directly over top of one of the sea stacks just out to sea. I thought it would make for a good photo.
Admittedly, I struggled with the technical side of this image as it was already quite dark. In the end, I took two exposures; one for the moon, and one for everything else. It was taken at f/4, 2seconds, iso 800, at 70mm.
Getting to Praia do Camilo
There’s nothing complicated about getting to Praia do Camilo. It’s out on the start of Ponta de Piedade near Lagos. If you’re walking from the old town, it takes about 20 minutes. Or of course, you can drive here. There is a parking lot up above the beach, but in the summer it’s usually full. People end up just parking on the side of the road.
From the parking lot, it’s a bunch of steps down to the beach. Sadly, there is no wheelchair access.
Where to Stay Near Praia do Camilo
You’re basically right in Lagos, so there are plenty of options
Our favourite hotel nearby is Carvi Beach Resort.
Cascade Wellness Resort is also a short walk away and has villas.
Hostels and Guesthouses
In Lagos, there are loads of great AirBnb options. You might even be able to get one of the mansions right above Praia do Camilo.
For hostels, check out Cloud 9.
If you’re camping in Lagos, you’re lucky. The main campsite, Trinidade, is in the perfect spot – 5 minutes from here and 5 from old town.
Camper vans can also park along the road on Ponta de Piedade.